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27th March

 Update: Insulting Humanity...

Jordan revives the ludicrous attempt to get the criticism of religion made internationally illegal
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN
inter parliamentary union logo Jordan has introduced an emergency item to the next meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, calling for a ban on insulting religion or religious symbols. The draft resolution says insults to religion represent a danger to all humanity.

The Speaker of Jordan's House of Representatives has written to the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to introduce an emergency item titled respect for religions and religious symbols, respect for freedom of opinion and expression. Although the title feigns acknowledgment freedom of opinion and expression, the resolution does nothing of the kind.

The IPU is the international organization of parliaments and describes itself as

The focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.

The draft resolution claims that insulting religion feeds religious extremism and fanaticism, terrorism and violence and says that a way to remedy the problem is to promote mutual respect among believers . The memorandum claims:

Insults to religions and religious symbols are uncivilized actions that have very serious consequences on all humanity, as they prevent the meeting of minds and dialogue and feed religious extremism and fanaticism, terrorism and violence.

The followers of Islam acknowledge the existence of other religions. Islam also gives the followers of those religions the right to exercise their religious practices freely within Islamic States, and regards non-Muslims as citizens and an integral thread in the fabric of the nation.

Freedom of opinion and expression should not be used as a pretext for insulting others' lives, reputations, religions, holy shrines or practices. In today's world, the term 'religious symbols' refers to prophets, places of worship and holy books. As a gesture of commitment, the religion of Islam obliges all its followers to believe in and respect all prophets, and to believe in holy books.

The Speaker has also called for an international convention to prevent disrespect for religions and religious symbols.

Stephen Evans, National Secular Society campaigns manager, said the resolution was the latest in a long line of attempts to impose a global blasphemy law and called for it to be fiercely resisted .

Free speech campaign organisation Article 19 have denounced the proposal and warned that it would legitimise criminal prohibitions on religious insult or so-called 'defamation of religions' and warned that the introduction of prohibitions on insulting religion must be resisted in other international forums, after campaign groups saw recent success in seeing off attempts to introduce de facto blasphemy bans at the UN.

 

24th March

 Update: Committing an abomination...

Justice not seen to be done when a judge with a conflict of interests, (also being a sharia court judge), fines street preacher for unpleasant Bible quotes
Link Here  full story: Street Preachers in the UK...Street prechers come under duress
HM Courts Service Street preacher Michael Overd has been found guilty of using threatening or abusive words after making homophobic remarks during a sermon delivered in Taunton High Street.

Overd was ordered to pay 250 to a passer-by who had been 'offended' by the preacher's comments, and he initially refused, at which point judge Shamim Qureshi threatened the preacher with a prison sentence. He has been ordered to pay total costs of 1200.

Overd intends to appeal his conviction and said I follow my Lord and leader, so I won't tone down.

The street preacher was charged with a public order offence, after complaints were made by members of the public that he had made homophobic and Islamophobic remarks. In particular he quoted Leviticus 20:13 :

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. (English Standard Bible)

The BBC reports that the judge told the preacher he seemed to enjoy testing the laws on free speech to their limits . Overd was also told that he should not have quoted from Leviticus 20:13 when speaking about homosexuality , according to Christian Today, who also report that the judge suggested that there were other verses he could have chosen if he wanted to talk about what the Bible says about homosexuality.

Judge Qureshi also works as a judge for the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, which aims to help Muslims resolve disputes in accordance with Islamic Sacred Law.

Overd was found not guilty on two other charges, which included causing racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress after he made critical remarks about the Muslim religious character Mohammed.

The National Secular Society has previously raised concerns about the trial's implications for free speech. Terry Sanderson, NSS president, said the ruling appeared to make the quoting of certain passages of the Bible illegal:

Whilst we all want to encourage public civility, there is a higher principle at stake. As long as there is no incitement to violence, then people should be allowed to speak freely without fearing legal repercussions.

 

20th March

  Burma jails bar owner over Buddha image...

Buddhism can sometimes be just as vengeful and vindictive as other world religions
Link Here

Burma flag 2010 A Burma court has jailed a New Zealand bar manager and two Burmese colleagues for two-and-a-half years for supposedly insulting religion by using a psychedelic image of Buddha wearing headphones to promote their bar.

Victims New Zealander Phil Blackwood, bar manager Htut Ko Ko Lwin and bar owner Tun Thurein had all pleaded not guilty . They were sentenced to jail with labour.

Rights groups condemned the verdict as an assault on freedom of expression and called for the trio's release. Matt Smith, executive director of the Bangkok-based group Fortify Rights said:

The authorities are clearly trying to make an example with this case, but ironically all it has done is hurt the image of Burma and Buddhism.

These men expressed contrition for what they said was a mistake.

At a hearing in December, Blackwood said he had not intended to offend Buddhism when he posted the image on the bar's Facebook page to advertise a cheap drinks night. He said he had removed the image and posted an apology when he realised it was being shared online and provoking outrage.

 

20th March

 Update: Je suis Michael Overd...

This obnoxious street preacher is a canary in the coalmine for free speech
Link Here  full story: Street Preachers in the UK...Street prechers come under duress
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